Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Report - Gossip by Christopher Bram

A summer read, Gossip by Christopher Bram kept me awake, which is all I ask of a book.

I read the book in four days - a near record for me.

I chose this book because I have read Christopher Bram before, namely, Father of Frankenstein, (which became Gods and Monsters in its film adaptation) and Hold Tight, a sexy thriller set in 1940s New York male bordello with a young Navy man and lots of intrigue.

(Note: Unfortunately for authors nowadays, you can buy a used book on Amazon for pennies.)

Gossip is set in New York City also (and Washington DC) in the 1980s. It was written contemporaneously and some of the references to computers, chat-rooms, telephones and media seem very dated and almost silly in view of the rapid developments in technology since then. But the story has substance.

Christopher Bram is not only a masterful storyteller who uses words with an efficiency that leaves no sentence superfluous, but he's also an insightful creator of characters, almost all of whom are drawn in complex dimensions. You glimpse their inner thoughts while seeing and hearing their outward actions and words.

The story is about Ralph, a gay liberal, onetime AIDS activist who gets involved with Bill, a closeted, Republican, DC journalist who's about to publish a trashy, anti-feminist expose about Hillary Clinton and Washington career women. Ralph finds himself "sleeping with the enemy" and is both perplexed and intrigued by his own attraction.

The story takes a turn a bit past the half-way mark when things get a bit like House of Cards - power, politics, homophobia, Christian fundamentalist religion, illegal activity and gay activism all come together to morph into a mystery novel. The author reveals psychological insights into each character and demonstrates the power of unrelated circumstances to produce something akin to existential chaos in an individual's life.

Gossip is just a good read.

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